Last year DSM Engineering Plastics introduced EcoPaXX™, a bio-based, high performance engineering plastic. EcoPaXX is a polyamide (PA) 410, and belongs to the family of the “long-chain polyamides”. It pairs typical long-chain polyamide properties, such as low moisture absorption and excellent chemical resistance, with high melting point (highest of all bio-based polyamides: ca. 250oC, see graph: melting point of bio-based polyamides as function of amide bond density) and high crystallization rate (typical for engineering plastics such as Akulon PA66 and Stanyl PA 46). It combines the best of both worlds and is therefore suitable for many high-tech applications.
The introduction of EcoPaXX fits perfectly in DSM’s strategy, in which sustainability and innovation are key elements. Besides EcoPaXX, DSM has other green products in its portfolio, including Arnitel® Eco, a green polyester elastomer, and Palapreg® ECO, a bio-based duroplast.
EcoPaXX is bio-based and has zero carbon footprint
EcoPaXX is 70% bio-based: 70% of the polymer consists of building blocks derived from castor oil as a renewable resource. Castor oil is obtained from the Ricinus Communis plant, which grows in tropical regions. It can grow on relatively poor soil, and it does not compete with the food-chain.
Furthermore, EcoPaXX has been shown to be 100% carbon neutral from cradle to gate, which means that the carbon dioxide which is generated during the production process of the polymer, is fully compensated by the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed in the growth phase of the castor beans. Presently, both the Life Cycle Assessment and the Carbon Footprint analysis are being validated against the international standards ISO14040/44 and PAS2050.
Recently, EcoPaXX has been awarded the Silver Certificate by the EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH in Germany, indicating its Value in the Cradle-to-Cradle® concept.
Launch of 5 new grades
DSM Engineering Plastics has developed 5 new grades of EcoPaXX, especially for injection molding purposes. These grades are:
EcoPaXX Q150-D: a general purpose, unfilled injection molding grade. Potential applications: castor wheels, household equipment, etc.
EcoPaXX Q-HG6 and Q-HG10: glass-reinforced (30% and 50%), heat-stabilised injection molding grades. These materials can be used for all kind of applications where high stiffness and toughness are needed. Chemical resistance of these grades is excellent: these materials display high resistance against hot water / glycol, as well as hot oil, and salt solutions (calcium chloride). Processability is excellent: the materials exhibit excellent flow and mold temperatures of 80 – 90oC can be used (as for PA 6 or 66). Injection molding parts have good surface appearance. Potential applications: parts in automotive cooling circuits, sensors which are exposed to oils, salts, structural parts which retain stiffness also under moist conditions
EcoPaXX Q-HGM24: a glass/mineral reinforced injection molding grade, especially suited for the injection molding of large parts which should have low warpage and excellent surface quality. Because of its high melting point, the material can also be used at relatively high operating temperatures. Potential applications: automotive engine covers. In high-powered engines, generating a lot of heat, conventional materials like PA6 or bio-based material like PA610, do not withstand the high peak temperatures, while materials like PA66 often lack the superior surface quality. For these applications EcoPaXX Q-HGM24 is very well suited.
EcoPaXX Q-KGS6: a halogen-free flame-retardant glass reinforced (30%) compound (V-0 at 0.75 mm). the material has a light-color and can easily be colored in the standard industrial RAL colors (e.g. light-grey). Potential applications are: connectors, circuit breakers, switch bodies.
EcoPaXX Q-HG6, Q-HG10 and Q-HGM24 will be available on a commercial scale as of November 2010, while EcoPaXX Q150-D and Q-KGS6 will be available in sample quantities from January 2011.